Democrats (and Republicans with guts and/or brains) should draft a new law that makes an exception to the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy for gay soldiers who function as translators and who work in certain other intelligence-related roles. Even though the Republican leadership is perfectly happy having known-to-be-gay representatives in senior House leadership positions and charged with protecting America’s children from predators, they still don’t think they belong in our armed forces helping translate terrorist intercepts. It’s both ludicrous and tragic that we’re allowing homophobia to gut our counterterrorism capabilities.
It’s idiocy to want to restrict gays from combat roles in the military, of course, but it’s a thousand times more idiotic to bar them from desk jobs where the bullshit “unit cohesion” excuse doesn’t even hold water. Many Americans who may not actually be raging homophobes, including many Democrats right up to Bill Clinton, still support “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” out of some kind of twisted tolerance for the cultural backwardness they think typifies the American soldier. But even they shouldn’t be able to reconcile that stance with the detrimental effect the policy is taking on our counterterrorism and intelligence capabilities.
Because of the primacy of the War On Terror over All Other Issues, legislation making an exception for gay translators would be hard to oppose by many would-be tolerant members of Congress, and it would be hard for Bush to veto. Of course, now that the Republican House leadership has been exposed as being secretly tolerant of gays even while they are publicly bigoted against them, maybe the GOP will once again feel obliged to pander to their base by acting just a little more bigoted than they actually are. That would be sad.
I fear that the biggest obstacle to such a bill may well be Democrats who think that it doesn’t go far enough, who won’t settle for chipping away at injustice, fighting for the civil rights of some soldiers while leaving others out to dry. Noble minded, but strategically foolish. Sigh.